Sister Machine Gun - The Future Unformed
Industrial There is no doubt that Sister Machine Gun has historically trafficked in the vernacular of 90's industrial. The discography here reads like a textbook in 90's pop-leaning industrial styles, fusing, at various points, elements of Drum N' Bass (and, with 1995's Burn, even trip-hop) into the typical, relatively radio-friendly industrial framework of the time - part spoken, part growled, and part screamed vocals on top of creeping baselines and aggressive, ominous synth stabs.

Unfortunately, for an album released in 2015, The Future Unformed feels somehow simultaneously incredibly dated, and grasping (in failure) at some attempt for relevance, with each track seeming to attempt to fold in some new sound while still relying on the same tricks, tropes, and sonic palette from the 90's material.

The opening track, Insect, begins with a squelching synth line before quickly leading into a standard kick-kick-snare drum pattern and chugging guitar sound. It's a catchy track, but feels lazy and half-baked, as if it were a remaster of some partially-completed 90's track. If there is a saving grace here, it is the vocals of lead-man Chris Randall, which, during the better parts of the track, are executed with the sensual snarl that we know and love from so much of the band's other work.

The rest of the album leaves behind the (rather cliched) guitar-chug and opts for a more leisurely pace, the guitar work punctuating synth and drum sequences with ambiance rather than sheer force. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, the synth and drum work generally is un-enthusing and dated, feeling culled from the pattern bank on someone's TB-303.

Subgod (Track 4) hints at something interesting, with a nice driving melody and well-constructed (if standard kick) drum building tension and creating a a sinister groove that wouldn't be entirely out of place at a goth-oriented nightclub. Despite building tension, however, it never resolves or goes anywhere with it. Much like the rest of the tracks on the EP, it ends abruptly and without resolution after relying on essentially the same small handful of sonic elements for the entirety of its duration. The album closer, appropriately titled Closure, continues this pattern, bringing in some interesting and new sonic elements but failing to see them through to completion or resolution.

Unfortunately, as a whole, the entire EP feels this way - like a hint, a tease, partially finished demos of something to come. It is, after all, called The Future Unfinished, and indeed it does feel that way - unfinished, half complete. Even the production and mastering on the album feels rough around the edges and straight from the 90's, with a lot of elements lacking the punch, presence, and dynamism that they should.

If you go into The Future Unfinished imagining it as a collection of partially-complete b-sides and demos, you may be happy with it (or, at the very least, not terribly offended). However, although its attempts to grasp at something new are apparent, it never quite gets there. It's an incredibly middling EP, one that tries too hard to straddle the space between revitalizing the old and creating something new, and therefore succeeds at neither. The grit and bite of the old material is lurking underneath there somewhere, but feels muffled and suppressed, and what new things it does attempt to bring to the table feel unresolved and incomplete. As a self-reported 'comeback', it feels disappointing.

Here's to hoping it's just a prelude.
3
Brutal Resonance

Sister Machine Gun - The Future Unformed

5.0
"Mediocre"
N/A
Electroracle
Spotify
Released 2015 by WTII Records
There is no doubt that Sister Machine Gun has historically trafficked in the vernacular of 90's industrial. The discography here reads like a textbook in 90's pop-leaning industrial styles, fusing, at various points, elements of Drum N' Bass (and, with 1995's Burn, even trip-hop) into the typical, relatively radio-friendly industrial framework of the time - part spoken, part growled, and part screamed vocals on top of creeping baselines and aggressive, ominous synth stabs.

Unfortunately, for an album released in 2015, The Future Unformed feels somehow simultaneously incredibly dated, and grasping (in failure) at some attempt for relevance, with each track seeming to attempt to fold in some new sound while still relying on the same tricks, tropes, and sonic palette from the 90's material.

The opening track, Insect, begins with a squelching synth line before quickly leading into a standard kick-kick-snare drum pattern and chugging guitar sound. It's a catchy track, but feels lazy and half-baked, as if it were a remaster of some partially-completed 90's track. If there is a saving grace here, it is the vocals of lead-man Chris Randall, which, during the better parts of the track, are executed with the sensual snarl that we know and love from so much of the band's other work.

The rest of the album leaves behind the (rather cliched) guitar-chug and opts for a more leisurely pace, the guitar work punctuating synth and drum sequences with ambiance rather than sheer force. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, the synth and drum work generally is un-enthusing and dated, feeling culled from the pattern bank on someone's TB-303.

Subgod (Track 4) hints at something interesting, with a nice driving melody and well-constructed (if standard kick) drum building tension and creating a a sinister groove that wouldn't be entirely out of place at a goth-oriented nightclub. Despite building tension, however, it never resolves or goes anywhere with it. Much like the rest of the tracks on the EP, it ends abruptly and without resolution after relying on essentially the same small handful of sonic elements for the entirety of its duration. The album closer, appropriately titled Closure, continues this pattern, bringing in some interesting and new sonic elements but failing to see them through to completion or resolution.

Unfortunately, as a whole, the entire EP feels this way - like a hint, a tease, partially finished demos of something to come. It is, after all, called The Future Unfinished, and indeed it does feel that way - unfinished, half complete. Even the production and mastering on the album feels rough around the edges and straight from the 90's, with a lot of elements lacking the punch, presence, and dynamism that they should.

If you go into The Future Unfinished imagining it as a collection of partially-complete b-sides and demos, you may be happy with it (or, at the very least, not terribly offended). However, although its attempts to grasp at something new are apparent, it never quite gets there. It's an incredibly middling EP, one that tries too hard to straddle the space between revitalizing the old and creating something new, and therefore succeeds at neither. The grit and bite of the old material is lurking underneath there somewhere, but feels muffled and suppressed, and what new things it does attempt to bring to the table feel unresolved and incomplete. As a self-reported 'comeback', it feels disappointing.

Here's to hoping it's just a prelude. Apr 09 2015

William Clark

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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Started in spring 2009, Brutal Resonance quickly grew from a Swedish based netzine into an established International zine of the highest standard.

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